Written By: Quintan Valles GPS February Issue 18
I met Tommy in his office at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. I found myself getting a bit nervous and thinking, “This guy has been to the Olympics and won a medal! And I don’t know the first thing about tennis.” I’m not much of a sports fanatic, so I had to mentally prepare myself to share the same space as someone who has seen the world, competed with the best and has successfully captured his dreams.
He was in his office watching tennis on a big flat screen TV while re-wrapping the grip of his racket. Before I could even begin the interview, Tommy started interviewing me and asked, “So are you based here in the desert? Were you born and raised here?” This highly successful professional athlete was taking an interest in my history. This was no longer an interview, but a real conversation.
Nick Isabella photographed Tommy using a Canon 5D mark III paired with a set of Sigma f1.4 Art lenses at 35mm, 50mm and 85mm, as well as a Canon 135mm f2.0 and a pair of Interfit S1 HSS strobes. “The conditions in the desert were a bit harsh, with the late morning heat setting in and a cloudless sky, but Tommy and the crew at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden made things easy and were a pleasure to work with,” Nick said. “Our goal was to photograph Tommy in a way that showed his personality and that he was an athlete without it turning into an action sports shoot.”
I’ve never met a professional athlete before, so I don’t know if this is always true, but the energy and the presence that Tommy created was remarkable. His stature was looming, tall, with long arms and legs and very distinguished facial features. Hearing this tennis giant talk about things like family and being a father was what stood out most to me in his story: “You can’t prepare for it. You can buy books and do this and that and think that you know what’s going to happen, but you really don’t.”
After talking about things other than tennis with Tommy, I no longer felt that I was speaking with Tommy Haas, pro athlete, but rather, Tommy Haas, father and family man who also happens to have a killer serve. GPS February Issue 18